Please wait

Edward Ruscha

Hudson, Amarillo, Texas

1962

Edward Ruscha, Hudson, Amarillo, Texas, 1962, from Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963  2004.474
Edward Ruscha, Hudson, Amarillo, Texas, 1962, from Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963. Gelatin silver print, 4 11/16 × 5 in. (11.9 × 12.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from The Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Foundation, and Diane and Thomas Tuft  2004.474 For Teachers
© Ed Ruscha

about this work

Twenty-six Gasoline Stations is often cited as a landmark in the history of artist’s books, and is the first of Edward Ruscha’s innovations in the genre. The book’s title announces its contents: a set of black-and-white photographs of filling stations, taken along Route 66 on trips between Oklahoma, Ruscha’s home state, and Los Angeles, where he has lived since 1956. The images are intentionally flat-footed, even amateurish, made without heed for compositional or aesthetic conventions; some are oddly cropped, and others are out of focus. Ruscha had the book offset printed in a first edition of 400, and gave copies away for free or sold them at a nominal price. Twenty-six Gasoline Stations belongs to the American tradition of laconic snapshot photography that includes Walker Evans and Robert Frank, and its vernacular American subject matter also connects it to Pop art. At the same time, however, the project’s serial structure, deadpan presentation, and book format anticipated the strategies of Conceptual art, which emerged as a new paradigm during the late 1960s.

look closer

Describe what you see in this photograph.

When do you think this picture was taken?

What are some clues that tell you about where this picture was taken?

Have you ever been to a place like this? What did it feel like to be there?

Activities

2004
Edward Ruscha, Hudson, Amarillo, Texas, 1962, from Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963  2004.474 For Teachers

Twentysix Gasoline Stations was a book that Ed Ruscha published in April 1963; it contained twenty-six photographs of gasoline stations on his route from his home in Los Angeles to Oklahoma City, where he had grown up and where his mother still lived. Hudson, Amarillo, Texas is one of the photographs in this book.

Look at a few of the photographs in this series. How are they similar or different? Why might Ruscha have wanted to take photographs of all these gas stations?

Have your students think about a journey they each take every day at school, for example, the trip from your classroom to the cafeteria. How would they document that trip in twenty six photographs? What would they show, and what would they leave out? Spend a class period taking these photographs and document the process in a book, either by pasting printed photographs into a notebook or by using a bookmaking service such as blurb.com.

Read more